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Gina Collia-Suzuki is a writer, artist and art historian based in the UK. Having developed a deep interest in eighteenth century Japanese art and culture at an early age, she began studying Japanese woodblock prints whilst training as an artist in the 1980s. In 1986 she came under the tutelage of eminent scholar Jack Hillier and under his guidance began in depth research into the works of Kitagawa Utamaro. More than two decades of passionate study resulted in the publication of two groundbreaking works: 'Utamaro Revealed: A Guide to Subjects, Themes & Motifs', in 2008, and 'The Complete Woodblock Prints of Kitagawa Utamaro: A Descriptive Catalogue', in 2009.
Keen to promote an understanding of the subjects encountered when looking at Japanese prints, Gina lectures on eighteenth century Japanese art, history and culture and maintains a popular blog dedicated to the same area of interest.
Gina is also the author of two satirical novels: 'The Wonderful Demise of Benjamin Arnold Guppy' and 'The Delightful Undoing of Patricia Enid Guppy'. She is currently working on an historical novel set in eighteenth century Japan.
David Stokes gives an excellent review of this book and I agree with most of what he wrote. However, the buyer must beware: the few prints that are shown in this book are in black and white, a very serious shortcoming in my opinion. And sadly, there are very few prints illustrated. What the author has done is most helpful in that she has supplied a textual description of Kitagawa Utamaro's prints. But the publisher really has short-changed the reader by not supplying many more images and having all the illustrations in color. This would increase the cost of the book, but would also lend much to the enjoyment and appreciation of this artist's genius. In this day and age, I feel that an art book without color images is really only half an art book. I recommend this title only for the very serious scholar/collector and university art library collections.
I can only begin to imagine the amount of work that went into producing this astounding catalogue, which is so comprehensive but at the same time portable for the field. Utamaro produced around 2,000 prints, but often it's the same ones that are discussed in books about him, so it's one thing to know there are 2,000 prints but quite another to have access to all of them. This catalogue changes that because it has them all, with full descriptions and details of the publisher, date, format, current location, and where the print has been illustrated or mentioned in other reference books. A lot of thought has obviously gone into the layout of this book. The indexes provide easy access to the catalogue entries, and the entries themselves are separated into groups depending on whether the prints were issued as sets or single sheets, or are titled or untitled. A complete catalogue of Utamaro's prints was long overdue, and this work fills the role beautifully. This is an important addition to the field of Ukiyo-e scholarship.
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Utamaro was one of the greatest woodblock artists in the history of art in Japan. This book lovingly presents his entire output, with insightful commentary and biographical information about the artist. If you buy this book you will treasure it as long as you are able to look at it.
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